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THE FIRST 1000 DAYS

Food and Brain Power – How Does Brain Power Improve because of Food


The brain develops during pregnancy and in the first two years of life. The way it develops will define the rest of a person's life. The connection made and changes in the brain affect sensory systems, memory, learning, attention, processing speed, the ability to multitask or plan, and the ability to control impulses. Your baby's first 1000 days of life are crucial for brain development. Food plays a vital role in brain development.


Firstly, there are certain foods that you can consume during pregnancy that aid in your baby's brain development. For brain growth and function all nutrients are important, but certain ones have particularly significant effects during early development. The effect of a nutrient deficit on the developing brain will be largely driven by the metabolic physiology of the nutrient, ie, what processes it supports in brain development and also by whether the deficit coincides with a critical or sensitive period for that process.


Prenatal vitamins ensure that your baby gets the nutrients they need, zinc aids in brain development. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish or soy, may boost your baby's brainpower. Omega-3 is found in the membrane of brain cells, so there are many ways to influence brain function. The amount of iron you consume is also important. It helps in delivering oxygen to your baby; you can eat legumes and chicken.


Foods that are also linked to improving brain power are green, leafy vegetables. These vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, and beta carotene; which help slow cognitive decline. High levels of potassium and iron improve the functioning of the brain and increase oxygenation, protecting it and thereby making it work more efficiently. Strawberries and blueberries contain flavonoids that help improve one's memory. Moreover, walnuts are rich in omega- 3 fatty acids that help improve your brain's health and protect brain cells. They also improve cognitive function. Conversely, foods, or diets that are rich in trans and saturated fats adversely affect your cognition. Studies on rodents have found that such junk food has demonstrated a decline in cognitive performance.


Eggs contain a chemical that makes up your brain's neurotransmitters and can help in better brain function. It also contains cholesterol, which helps form the membranes of brain cells. As stated earlier, iron is important for brain development. Additionally, a deficiency of iron affects attention span, memory, and learning ability. So, consuming tofu and soy-based proteins helps support brain cells, improve memory, and increase cognitive function.

As one can see, certain foods provide essential nutrients for your brain to develop and function efficiently. In general, foods containing omega-2 fatty acids, vitamins, and flavonoids are necessary for brain development and brainpower improvement. Thus, you must consume these nutrients during pregnancy for your baby's brain development. Then, as your baby grows and can eat solid foods, you can feed them the brain foods mentioned earlier.

Nutrition plays an important role in brain development from conception to 3 years of age.



References

Davis, J. L. (n.d.). Top 10 Brain Foods for Children. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/brain-foods-for-children#2

Foods linked to better brainpower. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind- and-mood/foods-linked-to-better- brainpower#:~:text=Research%20shows%20that%20the%20best,%2C%20folate%2C%2 0and%20beta%20carotene.

Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 9(7), 568–578. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2421

Kuzemchak, S. (n.d.). Prenatal Diet: The Best Foods for Baby Brain Development. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/feed-your-babys-brain- during-pregnancy/

McCarthy, C. (2018). The crucial brain foods all children need. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/brain-food-children-nutrition-2018012313168

Tammy Sons Owner of Tennessee WholeSale Nursery. (2017). Power Foods for The Brain. Retrieved from https://medium.com/thrive-global/power-foods-for-the-brain- 56a28e94ff55

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4981537/

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